Saturday, February 25, 2012

Living with Adult Children with Autism

Going to the UK for those few stories that point out that children with autism grow up to become adults with autism.

The quiet old house begins to tremble from some distant commotion. Thumpings, bangings and a deep, vibrating moan are coming from another room and can mean only one thing. Charlotte Moore begins to clear away all breakable items in the kitchen with practised efficiency, like a stage hand changing a set. She swiftly replaces our ceramic lunch plates and glasses with a single place setting: a melamine plate of biscuits and a plastic beaker of orange juice. “Sam’s back,” she announces.
Her 20-year-old autistic son seems not best pleased to find a stranger invading his territory. He pulls his T-shirt over his nose, rocks in his chair and produces something between a loud humming of disapproval and a warning growl. He is a fine-looking young man with dark, chiselled features but his arms are covered in little wounds and his hands are red and gnawed.
We continue to talk while he decides whether it is safe to emerge from the T-shirt to attack the biscuits. At intervals, he will jump up and stomp around for no particular reason — although his sudden investigation of the scullery, where someone has inadvertently left a bucket of household cleaning stuffs, clearly has a purpose. Charlotte darts over to lock them away, using a bunch of keys she keeps at all times about her person. Sam likes nothing more than to empty unguarded liquids down the sink. He also loves the sound of breaking glass, especially if he is doing the breaking.

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